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Berlin to boycott UN anti-racism event

The Local · 3 Sep 2011, 11:06

Published: 03 Sep 2011 11:06 GMT+02:00

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"We unfortunately cannot rule out that the Durban commemoration event in New York could be misused to make anti-Semitic comments as was the case at past conferences," Westerwelle said, as part of a statement issued by the foreign ministry.

At the opening of the Durban summit in Geneva two years ago, the Iranian president delivered a speech in which he described Israel as the "most cruel and racist regime," prompting some 40 representatives from European nations to walk out in protest.

This year's event, dubbed Durban III, will mark the 10th anniversary of the Durban Declaration, an anti-racism agenda adopted at a UN conference in 2001.

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany welcomed the government's decision to boycott the conference, calling it a show trial against Israel that should not granted legitimacy.

"The German government has sent a clear signal in favor of sensible and value-oriented politics," Dieter Graumann told German daily Passauer Neue Presse on Saturday. He also urged Britain and France to abstain from participating in this year's event.

"I hope that other big countries will follow Germany's example," Graumann said.

Westerwelle said Berlin's decision was a reflection of the country's special responsibility toward Israel. The announcement came on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in the Polish resort town of Sopot.

The German foreign minister said the choice to boycott the conference on September 22 was the result of an "intensive assessment within the German government."

Story continues below…

The announcement earned Westerwelle, a Free Democrat, rare praise from the FDP's coalition partners. Phillip Mißfelder, the Christian Democrats' foreign policy spokesman, said fears that the conference would be abused as a "platform for the defamation of the state of Israel" must be taken seriously.

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Your comments about this article

11:49 September 3, 2011 by Navigator_B
It's a bit over the top for Germany to boycott the whole conference just because they might disagree with something that might be said by one of the many speakers. It's also counter-productive because it gives Ahmadinejad an even bigger platform for his views.

Ahmadinejad may be a fundamentalist nut job but I've never heard of anything that he said that was anti-semitic. It's only that any criticism of the Israeli government or Zionism is automatically assumed to be anti-semitic.
12:10 September 3, 2011 by marimay
Yeah, this is quite silly.
12:37 September 3, 2011 by wood artist

I may be mistaken, but I've always assumed that comments saying the Israel should be wiped off the map, or has no right to exist would be considered by most people to be anti-Semitic.

But, I could be wrong about that.

15:23 September 3, 2011 by finanzdoktor
Not only that, but everyone at the previous conference should have either walked out or "booed" Ahmadinejad off the stage. This is an ant-racist conference, correct? So any racist remarks should not be allowed or permitted.

Think Germany should attend, with the agreement of other (and more this time) countries to walk out of the conference (and not return) if a repeat performance is done by Ahmadinejad. By walking out, he looks more foolish, and by not returning in force, the conference loses its relevance. Then, maybe the UN will get the hint, and not continue allowing such things to happen on its so-called watch.

I mean, it is the UN's conference, right? So, why don't they ensure it is truly anti-racist.
15:46 September 3, 2011 by catjones
wood artist....you are.
15:59 September 3, 2011 by derExDeutsche
Ahmadinejad has held Anti-Israel conferences in Iran where he's called for 'wiping Israel off the map', called the Holocaust a myth, and regularly compares Jews to Nazi's.

Actually, a lot of the same opinions I hear from the regulars here @the Local.de

he also, persecutes, jails and some cases executes, Gays, Lesbian and the Transgendered. Executes Ahwazi Arabs, an oppressed minority group, what else?
16:09 September 3, 2011 by yourholiness
Catjones...no he's not.
16:16 September 3, 2011 by marimay
When one relies solely upon translators for western media, maybe.
16:17 September 3, 2011 by finanzdoktor
@ marimay and wood artist: RICHTIG!!!!!!!!
16:18 September 3, 2011 by willowsdad
Does anyone think for a minute that any conference that feaured any criticism of Israel whatsoever, no matter how nuanced, would not be denounced as "anti-Semitic"? There are Jewish groups critical of Israeli policy and even they are attacked...
16:26 September 3, 2011 by Navigator_B
wood artist, derExDeutsche,

That quote has been repeated many times but it's not what Ahmadinejad said.

The generally accepted translation of his statement is something like

"the imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] said that the regime that occupies Jerusalem must disappear from the pages of time".

This is fairly mild for Ahmadinejad 's rhetoric against many of his targets, not just Israel. The "wipe off the map" quote comes from a mistranslation into English by the official Iranian media organisation.
18:43 September 3, 2011 by Larry Thrash
Let me see if I have the template of this conference correct. White people evil, Jews evil, all other races pure as the wind driven snow, Muslim good - Christian bad. If one doesn't come to this conference with this view, you aren't welcome. There seems to be a lack of diversity here.
01:05 September 4, 2011 by Asgarli
Freedom of speech and opinion?
02:01 September 4, 2011 by wood artist

Well, I guess if what I heard is the "translation into English by the official Iranian media organization" then I think I'd still be inclined to find it inappropriate. After all, I don't think too many people wouldn't believe he'd jump all over them if they screwed it up. If the US president said something, and the official translation into some other language was significantly different, I'm pretty sure there would be some sort of retraction or clarification issued.

But...I don't speak the language so I truly can't evaluate what he said against what his officials said he said. Given his other lies and pronouncements, including denying the holocaust, I am not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

On the other hand, I don't pay much attention to what he says anyway. It's impossible to know who actually speaks for Iran, and even more difficult to decide it they're telling the truth.

09:04 September 4, 2011 by Navigator_B
A lot of the accusations against Ahmadinejad are justified but that doesn't bother him. I'm sure that he welcomes any criticism from western countries and their media because they have no credibility amongst many people in Iran and other parts of the middle east. It's in his interest that facts get mixed up with falsehoods and speculation (the claims of Iranian nuclear weapons sound a lot like a repeat of the lies about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, whether they turn out to be true or not).

All this criticism only helps Ahmadinejad present himself as standing up to Israel and its allies, and that helps to distract attention away from the way that he oppresses his fellow Iranians. This latest boycott is just another example of western countries playing into his hands.
21:46 September 4, 2011 by chicagolive
@ Navigator_B I don't know where you have been but Persians for the most part besides the backwood villiagers that are runnning the country, are highly educated people. Alot of these Persians probably speak better english than you or me. So they no exactly what was said and it was broadcast as such in Iran and from friends and family there he said even worse things than that in relation to alot of races not just the Jews.
23:36 September 4, 2011 by hardly

your notion that "Alot of these Persians probably speak better english than you or me." is partially correct. Your command of the language is dreadful and your position is banal.

Everyone else,

If we are to take the UN serious, then dissenting or ugly statements are inevitable. This discussion should focus less on Ahmadinejad or other potentially difficult characters and consider the significance or potency of this UN endeavor. We should identify the values or efficacy of this event and how they relate to shared goals. Otherwise, the position of Westerwelle and Ahmadinejad and this whole discussion is an impotent game and insignificant posturing.
06:07 September 5, 2011 by btightontwice
Why is this man allowed to speak to a global forum at all? The green revolution ended in Iran with his soldiers shooting his own people. If Assad wished to give a speech at Durban he would be arrested. But the Iranian despot is allowed to slaughter his own, supports stoning for adultery, burning for homosexuality and on and on. It seems the only arab spring this man wants to see is in Israel, not in his backyard. They even banned kids having waterfights this week.
22:19 September 5, 2011 by georgekl
The game is going on and on.

Against everyone.

02:09 September 6, 2011 by hardly

Your focusing your attention on Ahmadinejad,

If he is responsible for what you refer to, would you agree that trying him the International Criminal Court is appropriate? Other not-so-civil actions could be taken too. Spring air could be welcomed.

But the point was missed. What is the purpose, efficacy and legitimacy of the UN Anti-Racism Conference? If it is a legitimate and a desired event, then Westerwelle is not excused especially when there are attendees and speakers who we despise. With these conditions, it is his and any semi-reasonable representatives obligation to attend such an event.

But I can raise another question: Is Westerwelle an effective and desired representative? Is he ostentatiously publicizing this lack of attendance in opposition to Ahmadinejad as a distraction from his own failures?
23:59 September 6, 2011 by Whipmanager
Comment: I think the UN is a waste. It has no power, it causes harm, it asks us to do carbon trading, make it illegal to disparage Muslims or Islam (are other religions also protected teh same- UN Resolution 16/18) it is a way for the little people who havnt done anyting in the world to force teh big guys to do theiur bidding. There is no legal basis fro an international Court that can try a leader of a country, regardless of what he has done or who he is. IF a country gives permission for the UN High Court to try their subjects, than they are foolish. Remember that many called for the Bushes to be tried by teh world court for crimes against humanity, but no one said anythin gabout trying Arafat. The UN is a power of evil. It is a pure waste of space in New York. They give money away to despots, make the worst killers head of the human rights programs, they help the criminals get food fro their mercenaries and keep people enslaved and poor and hungry. Germany and every country should go, stand up and dispute each lie told by teh anti semitic Iranian. You see, jews are not the only semites. Why can one group hate and it is called diversity and another hate and it is a human rights violation? Where is the sense in any of this?
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